Despite Diversity Challenges, Spalding Accredited School’s Test Scores Consistently Rank Among Arizona’s Top Schools

Phoenix-based Alhambra Traditional School — where 40 percent of students qualify for either free or reduced-priced food services — has consistently maintained its high state ranking. The school’s third grade is No. 1 in the state. Its principal attributes the school’s success to a number of factors, including a rigorous curriculum, strong parent support, and the implementation of The Spalding Method as its language arts curriculum.

PHOENIX – May 1, 2013 – Among the top-ranked elementary schools in Arizona, one — Alhambra Traditional School (ATS) in Phoenix —is unique. The school has diversity challenges unlike other highly ranked Arizona schools: 65 percent of its approximately 750 students are minority and 40 percent of students come from low-income households that qualify for either free or reduced-priced food services.

Yet, since its inception ATS has consistently ranked among the highest scoring schools in reading and language on statewide standardized achievement tests. In 2012, ATS performed better than 99.2 percent of the elementary schools in Arizona and its third grade was ranked No. 1 on the Spring 2011 AIMS Assessment in reading. In addition, by December ATS kindergartners are reading. According to the Arizona Department of Education Accountability Division, ATS is ranked No. 9 among elementary schools in the state for its 3rd and 4th grades combined AIMS Math & AIMS Reading for the 2011-2012 school year. Even knowing the school’s track record, the early reading ability surprises parents.

“I was surprised at how quickly my children learned to read,” said Sherrie Turner, the parent of three ATS students.

“Our achievement is very high,” said Dr. Tracey Lopeman, the school’s principal. “But when you compare the demographics of schools with similar results, the statistics could not be more different.”

ATS, an alternative public school within the Alhambra Elementary School District, was founded in 1983 by a group of parents who desired an intense academic curriculum, disciplined environment, and parental involvement in the school’s decision-making processes. Parents said they chose “The Writing Road to Reading” by Spalding Education International (SEI) for the language arts curriculum because it integrates a comprehensive speech, spelling, writing and reading program with The Spalding Method. The Method is research based, multi-sensory and diagnostic instruction combined with an educational philosophy of high expectations and professional growth. SEI says the textbook by Romalda B. Spalding — now on its 6th revised edition — closely aligns with and often exceeds the Common Core State Standards.

ATS became a Spalding accredited school in 2002. Accreditation by SEI is a voluntary process and requires a Spalding Certified Teacher at each grade level and at least one Spalding Certified Teacher Instructor to provide on-site Spalding training for teachers.

The school’s successful track record has parents lined up waiting to enroll their children. About 90 percent of ATS students live outside Alhambra School District boundaries.

“Our state ranking always places us at the top of Internet searches,” said Dr. Lopeman. “We’re definitely well known. Every day interested parents call to add their children’s names to the waiting list. I connect our reputation to our results in reading and writing, which we attribute to our implementation of The Spalding Method.”

Continued Dr. Lopeman, “Our in-depth knowledge and experience with The Spalding Method allows us to teach beyond the phonogram cards and spelling lists, where many schools stall. The Spalding Teacher’s Guides identify reading and writing objectives aligned with Common Core Standards. Students learn to analyze text structure, determine author’s purpose and, through consistent modeling of mental actions, engage in all the comprehension strategies that good readers use. That is Spalding.”

New teachers are required to take 45 hours of initial Spalding training before they begin teaching at ATS. In addition, every ATS teacher is required to become Spalding Certified.

“Spalding is based on teacher training,” she said. “It goes back to the teacher’s understanding of phonemic awareness, how to effectively teach students to decode, and knowing how to convey the comprehension process. That’s the key to its success; the teacher is well trained.”

According to Dr. Lopeman, ATS’ success can be replicated in other schools because the Spalding manuals and training are very detailed and reliable. Many other schools in the US and internationally use Spalding’s curriculum. For more information visit

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About Spalding Education International

Spalding Education International (SEI) is dedicated to teaching all students to spell, write and read. The organization was founded in 1986 by Romalda B. Spalding, author of “The Writing Road to Reading”a comprehensive K-6 total language arts curriculum that incorporates the teaching philosophy of The Spalding Method. Spalding’s curriculum closely aligns with and often exceeds the Common Core State Standards. In The Spalding Method, instruction is explicit, systematic, interactive, diagnostic and multi-sensory. SEI courses are accredited by the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) for its literacy instructional programs for teachers and Spalding teacher trainers. Classroom and resource room teachers, adult educators, as well as home educators in the United States, Canada, Australia, Central America, Europe, Singapore and Taiwan are currently using The Spalding Method. SEI is a nonprofit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) corporation based in Phoenix, Ariz. For more information, call 1-623-434-1204 or visit

News Media Contact:
Jeff Pizzino, APR / 480-606-8292 /